Walt Kowalski A Christ-Figure?
Christic Resonances
in Gran Torino

Diane Corkery


1. Robert Ellis, “Movies and Meaning,” The Expository Times 112, 9 (2001): 308.

2. Anton Karl Kozlovic, “Sacred cinema: exploring Christian sensibilities within popular Hollywood films,” Journal of Beliefs & Values 28 (2007): 203.

3. Ibid, 203.

4. Michael Paul Gallagher, “Theology, Discernment and Cinema” in New Image of Religious Film, ed. John R. May (Kansas: Sheed & Ward, 1997), 151.

5. Matt Soergel, Get off my lawn, punk (2009) [http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/matt_soergel/2009-01-09/story/get_off_my_lawn_punk].

6. For an overview of the current tendencies in Christ-figure research, see Adele Reinhartz, “Jesus and Christ-figures” in The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film, ed. John Lyden (London: Routledge, 2009), 430-431.

7. For example, Lloyd Baugh, Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-figures in Film (Kansas: Sheed & Ward, 1997), 205-210; Kozlovic, “The Structural Characteristics of the Cinematic Christ-figure,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 8 (2004). [http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art8-cinematicchrist.html]. For a critical appraisal of the value of such prescribed criteria, see Christopher Deacy, “Reflections on the Uncritical Appropriation of Cinematic Christ-Figures: Holy Other or Wholly Inadequate,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 13 (2006). [http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art13-reflectcinematicchrist.html].

8. Adele Reinhartz, “Jesus on the Silver Screen” in Revelation: Representations of Christ in Photography, ed. Nissan N. Perez (London: Merrell, 2003), 189.

9. Matthew McEver, “The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic,” The Journal of Religion and Film 2, 2 (1998): 25. [http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/McEverMessiah.htm].

10. Kozloviv, “Structural Characteristics,” 53.

11. It is worth recounting the moments leading up to Walt Kowalski’s death: Walt reaches inside his pocket and pulls out a cigarette. The gang members instantaneously react by drawing their weapons. The camera returns to Walt who utters, “Kind of jumpy, aren’t we?” Walt taunts them with a finger gun and proceeds to ask, “Anybody got a light?” He puts the cigarette in his mouth and in a composed manner responds to his own question, “No? Me, I’ve got a light.” Walt mumbles to himself, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” He reaches into his coat pocket, as if he is about to draw a gun. And the six Hmong gang members level their guns and fire at the same time.

12. Baugh, 211.

13. http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Gran-Torino.html

14. Kozlovic, “Structural Characteristics,” 51.

15. Ibid, 27.

16. Baugh, 209.

17. Kozlovic, “Structural Characteristics,” 28.

18. For further details about the typical process of crucifixion, see Jerome Neyrey, The Gospel of John in Cultural and Rhetorical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 412-414.

19. Some viewers might experience a resonance between the taunting of Walt by the Hmong gang prior to his death and those who derided Jesus in the synoptic Gospel.

20. Neyrey, 432-434.

21. Baugh, 210.

22. Ibid, 210.

23. Quoted in Steve Nolan, “Towards a New Religious Film Criticism: Using Film to Understand Religious Identity Rather than Locate Cinematic Analogue” in Mediating Religion: Conversations in Media, Religion and Culture ed. Jolyon Mitchell and Sophia Marriage (London: T & T Clark, 2003), 173.

24. Daniel Marguerat and Yvan Bourquin, How to Read Bible Stories (London: SCM Press, 1999), 65.

25. David Rhoads, Joanna Dewey and Donald Michie, Mark As Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999), 103.

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